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Thread: Capture methane from sewage; heat homes, fuel vehicles, make electricity

  1. Default Capture methane from sewage; heat homes, fuel vehicles, make electricity

    There's a movement of citizens inspired by the presidential campaign who are now submitting ideas for how they think the Obama Administration should change America. It's called "Ideas for Change in America."

    One idea is titled: Capture methane from sewage treatment plants; heat homes, fuel vehicles, make electricity.. You can read more and vote for the idea by clicking the following link:

    http://www.change.org/ideas/view/cap...ke_electricity

    The top 10 ideas are going to be presented to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day and will be supported by a national lobbying campaign run by Change.org, MySpace, and more than a dozen leading nonprofits after the Inauguration. So each idea has a real chance at becoming policy.


    Today 90% of the potential energy in sewage is removed and turned into CO2 or other products (via aerobic microbial action). Usually only about 5%-10% of potential fuel is collected into anaerobic digesters (where methane is produced). Methane is then usually considered just a byproduct, and increased production is rarely sought. When methane production is attempted, it is sometimes produced in such surplus that it could potentially provide energy to hundreds or thousands of homes. Imagine all that energy, and it is less than 10% of the potential!

    If we approach sewage treatment with energy production as the primary goal, (treating sewage in anaerobic digesters first, harvesting the vast amounts of methane, then finishing the water as usual) we will have thousands of small local Biogas (natural gas) production plants, which could:
    - provide clean vehicle fuel (already a proven technology)
    - supply fuel for cheap electricity
    - provide gas to heat homes or buildings

    I am hoping that this gets a little interest, but it needs about 500 more people to vote for it before anyone would take notice.
    If you have a chance, vote for it. I think you need to create an account, but as far as I can tell, they don't spam you or anything.

    http://www.change.org/ideas/view/cap...ke_electricity

  2. #2
    cngacrossusa Guest

    Default Re: Capture methane from sewage; heat homes, fuel vehicles, make electricity

    I agree 100% that PUBLIC cng should be produced from WASTEWATER TREATMENT plants. See first implementation of this in USA in Flint, MI based on proven technology of Sweden company:
    http://www.autobloggreen.com/2008/11...sewage-biogas/

    I noticed this a while back also at IANGV.org site but can't find their electronic newsletter.

    Another huge source of methane can be extracted from LANDFILLS which is proven with site in Ohio - - - see at:
    http://www.ngvglobal.com/en/market-d...hio-02119.html

    Finally, methane from MANURE is yet another source as evidenced by efforts in Idaho (however, need ALL the cng pumps in Idaho to be PUBLIC) - - - see at:
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081222/...ene_dung_power

    Last year, TV show Dirty Jobs visited Texas cattle farm that also had digester to capture methane for cng fuel for trucks.

    Go CNG . . . from ALL sources !!
    Fuel for energy independent USA !!

  3. #3

    Default Re: Capture methane from sewage; heat homes, fuel vehicles, make electricity

    WW Plants in California have been doing this for years. Either they use the Methane themselves or they sell it in bulk to the local utility.

  4. Default Re: Capture methane from sewage; heat homes, fuel vehicles, make electricity

    I've looked into the WW Plants in California (and a few other states), and they all just continue to do business as usual (aerobic process first, then use the last 5% of leftovers to make energy) most of these plants are either partially or fully powered by the methane they produce, but they could be producing so much more. The newer anaerobic digesters are much more efficient, so some of the newer plants are even able to sell some gas, but they are all currently ignoring the potential of energy, and focusing on cleaning water with as fast a turnaround time as possible.
    What I am talking about is reversing this idea, it requires very much more holding capacity with much longer turnover times, (the real drawback), but you start out with energy production as the main goal, not as a byproduct. I am not aware of a single WW plant that is approaching things from this angle yet... (although I don't know about Swedish Biogas International in WI, it looks like they might be approaching things more from the view I am suggesting)

  5. #5

    Default Re: Capture methane from sewage; heat homes, fuel vehicles, make electricity

    I think trying to build enough digesters to process raw sewage is not going to happen for several reasons:

    1) Cost and land availability -- they would have to be something like 50x bigger than current digesters to handle the flow. Ain't gonna happen.

    2) Politics -- politicians and media are focused on carbon reduction technologies. Creating Methane then creates more CO2.

    3) Science -- I don't think digesters are ever going to be THAT efficient that we'll want to use them on raw sewage. One byproduct of aeration is to create a CONCENTRATED biological mass so that it can be digested.

    A quick check of the project you referenced presumably refers to their using organic waste from food production facilities and dairies to create Methane (not raw sewage, except in conventional ways). This is a fine idea and could be easily applied to the dairy waste situation here in California. We have acre-feet of manure that would be ideal for digestion and biogas production. If that's such a slam dunk, why hasn't one dairy built a digester to get rid of their manure and sell the Methane?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Santa Monica
    Posts
    270

    Default Re: Capture methane from sewage; heat homes, fuel vehicles, make electricity

    Did Harris Ranch ever build their methane generator?

  7. Default Re: Capture methane from sewage; heat homes, fuel vehicles, make electricity

    response
    1) Cost and land availability
    -- This really is the big hurdle, most sewage treatment facilities are obviously close to metropolitan areas, so land is an issue. The real question is how efficient would production need to be to justify the cost of extra land and digesters? Right now you and I are paying for these treatment centers to run, (taxes and water-sewage-usage fees) so there isn't much incentive to do better, but what if these costs could be cut in half, or better yet, what if a small profit could be made over the long-term? It is simply a question of cost-benefit ratios. If getting 90% of the potential energy costs $1 million up front (land, digesters), but saves $50,000 a year, of course it is worth it...
    2) Politics -- politicians and media are focused on carbon reduction technologies. Creating Methane then creates more CO2.
    This isn't true, aerobic processes produce much MORE CO2 than anaerobic, the anaerobic process is moving carbon that would have become CO2 into methane, so when you burn it later it isn't "more" CO2, it is the same CO2 that would have been created aerobically, but you just delayed things awhile (for the most part).

    3) Science -- I don't think digesters are ever going to be THAT efficient that we'll want to use them on raw sewage. One byproduct of aeration is to create a CONCENTRATED biological mass so that it can be digested.
    This is only half true, the main reason for aeration is to make waste into CO2 (mostly) and to create a biological mass that can be removed (either as compost or sent to landfills). The digesters themselves don't need to be any more efficient than they currently are, we just need to prioritize the use of digesters, making energy production the primary goal.

    why hasn't one dairy built a digester to get rid of their manure and sell the Methane?
    Plenty of dairy's are starting to, but it has been slow to catch on here in the U.S. Nearly one megawatt of electricity is being generated from a pilot feedlot in Vegreville, Alberta, Ca. More and more U.S. dairy producers are moving toward it, because it just makes financial sense. Again the biggest hurdles are the up-front costs, and energy in the U.S. is still fairly cheap and abundant.
    Last edited by kirkbenge; 12-22-2008 at 05:58 PM. Reason: added links

  8. #8

    Default Re: Capture methane from sewage; heat homes, fuel vehicles, make electricity

    first most ww plants are run by govement so to think that they could do this and show a profit dreem on next I dont know about sewer methane but land fill methane is low btu so when you put it in the city gas line you are ripping off the end user as it will take more cf to get the same heat just another way to beat the public

  9. #9
    cngacrossusa Guest

    Default Re: Capture methane from sewage; heat homes, fuel vehicles, make electricity

    If ANY group of people should support any and all methods to produce methane/CNG (some call it CBNG - - compressed bio-natural gas), all of us here on CNG Chat should be open to ALL possibilities!!

    Please help push forward SUPPORT for these bio methods of generating more CNG. If just 10% to 20% of all the vehicles travelling to these various businesses were CNG, AND those locations were PUBLIC cng refueling sites, the number of public cng sites would likely DOUBLE in just a couple years!! Imagine trash trucks, city trucks, cattle yard trucks, city admin vehicles, gas/electric company trucks, etc. that ALL were using CNG . . . . AND were public cng sites . . this would surely drive up demand for OEM production of trucks and cars by manufacturers. I "bet ya" that hundreds of major metro cities with over 500,000 have WW plants, AND land available to produce bio-cng cost effectively - - just need the education and push to do better, rather than status quo.

    For comparison, I read on IANGV.org that 2 or 3 major manufacturers (VW, Nissan and ??) have committed to producing at least 10% of all their vehicles sold in Venezuela in 2009 would be either dedicated cng or bi-fuel (by Force, from Chavez mandate). I'm no Chavez fan, but he knows how to GET ACTION. If Obama can even get OEM's in USA to get 5% of 2010 production to be dedicated or bi-fuel CNG, that would double or triple the paltry 150,000 cng vehicles that are now in the USA.

    Keep the faith . . . . GO CNG . . . and bio-CNG!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    corpus christi ,Texas
    Posts
    71

    Default Re: Capture methane from sewage; heat homes, fuel vehicles, make electricity

    I started up one of the first methane digesters in texas for energy production in Wichita falls TX in 1991. The main purpose for the digester was to reduce electrical costs. We co-generated electricty to run the plant on. this seems to be the most efficient way to use the "bio-gas". It is wet and has to be scrubbed. The BTU's arent as consistant as public traded gas. The plus' are like the picken's plan reduces electrical load. From my understading landfill gas is better quality but still needs scrubbing and can contain some free radicals of propane, and other hot gases. The effeciency of these digesters have improved with the use of "egg shaped" digesters from germany. The main driving force for not doing these digesters is money. The added cost of structures, equipment maintenance of generators, scrubbers, ect. The payout is longer then some of the equipment life.

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